Stove's Sophomore Album 's' Favorite Friend' Delivers Both Reassurance and Catharsis

What originally started out as a solo side project of Ovlov’s Steve Hartlett has evolved into a cathartic force of fuzz known as Stove. The band hailing from Brooklyn released their sophomore record, s’ Favorite Friend, on Halloween through Exploding in Sound Records.

Photo by: Becca Ryskalczyk

Photo by: Becca Ryskalczyk

The whole album plays is testament to working through difficult times and challenges, including the failures we encounter along the way. Each track perfectly pairs introspective lyrics or tones with a whirlwind of guitars, bass, and drums - true proof of what cooperative songwriting should sound like. Each member’s talents are highlighted throughout the record, whether its showcasing the fragility in Hartlett’s voice on “Animortal”, Blakely’s voice on “Duckling Fantasy”, or Hammond’s bass and Molini’s guitar solos on “Mosquiter”.

The brooding mood of the record is set quickly, with the first few songs sharing similar sounds and themes. “Stiff Bones” recounts the pain of rejection and having things fall apart right in front of your eyes with lyrics like, “When you try to play it off / as if your heart is truly soft”. It’s a nearly universal trait that we try to act cool and pretend that we are unfazed in these situations, but we all know better. A storm of bass and drums adds to the heavy feeling and cathartic energy of track.

Released as a single earlier this month, “Duckling Fantasy”, is a bite-sized track with a runtime of only 1:45. But the amount of vivacity packed into the song is a feat in its own right. Vocalist on the track Jordyn Blakely is usually heard on the drums in Stove, but her soft yet disjointed vocals stand in sharp contrast to the ripping and roaring sounds that drive the track. A catchy little song, “Duckling Fantasy” is sure to find its way onto playlists around the fuzzy indie rock scene.

“Mosquiter” is one of the album’s highlights, and the band knows this— as it was the first single. Clearly more indie-influenced, the track is anchored in a electronic beat layered with Blakely’s drumming, Hammond’s bass, Molini’s guitar, and finally Hartlett’s voice pining for memories of the past. The way the instruments are layered throughout the track, including a guitar solo as well as a stripped down period— in which we only hear from Hammond and Blakely on bass and drums, demonstrates the intricate way in which Stove’s members are able to weave their individual sounds together crafting a track that feels both conversational and cooperative.

A noticeable departure from the rest of the album is “Difficult Dooley”, likely referencing the sound engineer on the record Nick Dooley. A bossa nova infused beat with heavily distorted vocals dominates the track for the first minute or so, only to slowly be morphed into a more recognizable sound. Hartlett’s unaltered voice cuts through the impossibly low tone of the initial vocal line, and a short burst of guitar signals the shift back to the conventions of s’ Favorite Friend, albeit with a much lighter aesthetic.

“Animortal” is another one of the shorter tracks on the album, and yet is also one of the most memorable. The track starts out with a brutally honest observation from Hartlett: he sticks by friends and those he loves, even if they treat him like he’s nothing more than a stray dog who won’t obey their commands. It’s a stark reminder that we all have our things that we would rather sweep under the rug, where no one can see them. What starts out as a a stripped down emo-twinged acoustic track explodes into the heavier, fuzzier sound woven throughout the record, and we’re reminded of the hypocrisy in judging others for their flaws without accepting that we have plenty of our own.

While Stove has other entries in their discography, nothing feels quite as cohesive or grounded in the austere reality that we will all have bad periods in our lives. On ‘s Favorite Friend, there is both hope and encouragement; as well as Stove telling us it’s okay to not be okay sometimes. Hartlett and Blakely’s lyrics remind us that we aren’t alone in feeling alone, and the instrumentals of the record give us the sense that our feelings of sadness and rage are valid. Recognizing and accepting challenges and failures is a part of growing through the darkest parts of our lives— ‘s Favorite Friend is just there to help light the way out.

-Isobel Mohyeddin

Delaney Motter